Bois noir is caused by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’, and it is one of the most important and widespread diseases in the Euro-Mediterranean region. There are complex interactions between phytoplasma and grapevines, weeds, and vectors. These ecological relationships can be tracked according to molecular epidemiology. The aims of the 2-year study (2014–2015) were to describe incidence and spatial distribution of Bois noir in a vineyard with three grapevine varieties in Sicily, and to identify the molecular types of the tuf and vmp1 genes in these naturally infected grapevines, according to the potential reservoir plants and vectors. Disease incidence in 2015 was significantly higher in ‘Chardonnay’ (up to 35%) than for ‘Nero d’Avola’ and ‘Pinot noir’ (<5%). All grapevine, weed, and insect samples were infected by ‘Ca. P. solani’ tuf-type b. Most of the collected insects were strictly related to Vitis spp. and belonged to Neoaliturus fenestratus, Empoasca spp., and Zygina rhamni. The characterization of the vmp1 gene revealed six different vmp types in grapevines (V1, V4, V9, V11, V12, V24), three in weeds (V4, V9, V11), and four in insects (V4, V9, V11, V24). Notably, V4, V9, appear both in hosts and vectors, with V9 predominant. Virtual restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis based on the nucleotide sequences supported the data of the conventional RFLP. Connections between the molecular data recorded in the vineyard ecosystems and the application of innovative tools based on the geostatistical analysis will contribute to further clarification of the specific ecological and epidemiological aspects of ‘Ca. P. solani’ in Sicily.
Hemotropic mycoplasmas, previously classified in the genus Eperythrozoon, have been reported as causing human infections in Brazil, China, Japan, and Spain.
In 2017, we detected DNA from Candidatus Mycoplasma haemohominis in the blood of a Melanesian patient from New Caledonia presenting with febrile splenomegaly, weight loss, life-threatening autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and hemophagocytosis. The full genome of the bacterium was sequenced from a blood isolate. Subsequently, we retrospectively (2011–2017) and prospectively (2018–2019) tested patients who had been hospitalized with a similar clinico-biological picture. In addition, as these patients had been in contact with frugivorous bats (authorized under conditions for hunting and eating in New Caledonia), we investigated the role of these animals and their biting flies by testing them for hemotropic mycoplasmas.
There were 15 patients found to be infected by this hemotropic mycoplasma. Among them, 4 (27%) died following splenectomy performed either for spontaneous spleen rupture or to cure refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia. The bacterium was cultivated from the patient’s blood. The full genome of the Neocaledonian Candidatus M. haemohominis strain differed from that of a recently identified Japanese strain. Of 40 tested Pteropus bats, 40% were positive; 100% of collected bat flies Cyclopodia horsfieldi (Nycteribiidae, Diptera) were positive. Human, bat, and dipteran strains were highly similar.
The bacterium being widely distributed in bats, Candidatus M. haemohominis, should be regarded as a potential cause of severe infections in humans.
Candidatus (Ca.) Neoehrlichia (N.) mikurensis is an emerging tick-borne pathogen of humans that is closely related to Ehrlichia and Anaplasma species. This strict intracellular bacterium escapes detection by routine microbiologic diagnostic methods such as blood culture, leading to considerable under-diagnosis of the infectious disease it causes, neoehrlichiosis.
Here, we describe the vascular and thromboembolic events afflicting a series of 40 patients diagnosed with neoehrlichiosis in Sweden during a 10-year period (2009–2019).
The majority of the patients (60%) developed vascular events ranging from repeated thrombophlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, transitory ischemic attacks, to arteritis. Younger age was a risk factor for vascular complications. In contrast, there was no difference in the incidence of vascular events between immunosuppressed and immunocompetent patients. However, there were qualitative differences, such that deep vein thrombosis exclusively afflicted the immunosuppressed patients, whereas arteritis was restricted to the immunocompetent persons. We also present the case histories of two patients who developed vasculitis mimicking polyarteritis nodosa and giant cell arteritis. Both were cured by doxycycline treatment.
Ca. N. mikurensis infection should be considered in patients living in tick-endemic areas of Europe and northern Asia who present with atypical vascular and/or thromboembolic events. Early diagnosis and antibiotics targeting this emerging infectious agent can eradicate the infection and prevent the development of new vascular events.
Phytoplasmas of the 16SrIII group are wide spread, and have a broad plant host range. Among these, ‘Candidatus phytoplasma pruni’ (‘Ca. P. pruni’; phytoplasmas of 16SrIII subgroup A) can cause serious diseases in Prunus species and ‘Ca. P. pruni’-related strains can infect other plant species, including grapevines. In this study, a new real-time PCR detection system was developed for ‘Ca. P. pruni’ using TaqMan chemistry. This test was designed to detect ‘Ca. P. pruni’, by amplifying the species-specific secY gene. In addition, a test to amplify the group-specific 16S rRNA gene region was also developed. The performances of both tests were evaluated. The test that amplifies the secY gene provided reliable and quick detection of ‘Ca. P. pruni’. Using the newly developed and validated test, ‘Ca. P. pruni’ was not found in any of the 434 field samples collected from different plants species grown in different regions of Slovenia.
Grapevine Bois noir (BN) is caused by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ (‘Ca. P. solani’) and is one of the most important phytoplasma diseases in the Euro-Mediterranean viticultural areas. The epidemiology of BN can include grapevine as a plant host and is usually transmitted via sap-sucking insects that inhabit herbaceous host plants. Tracking the spread of ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains is of great help for the identification of plant reservoirs and insect vectors involved in local BN outbreaks. The molecular epidemiology of ‘Ca. P. solani’ is primarily based on sequence analysis of the tuf housekeeping gene (which encodes elongation factor Tu). In this study, molecular typing of tuf, through restriction fragment length polymorphism and sequencing, was carried out on grapevine samples from Iranian vineyards. According to the molecular characterization, three molecular types—tuf b1, tuf b5 and tuf b6—were found, with tuf b1 being the most prominent. These data provide further knowledge of tuf gene diversity and question the ecological role of such “minor” tuf types in Iranian vineyards, which have been detected only in grapevines.
Bat-associated bartonellae, including Bartonella mayotimonensis and Candidatus Bartonella rousetti, were recently identified as emerging and potential zoonotic agents, respectively. However, there is no report of bat-associated bartonellae in Zambia. Thus, we aimed to isolate and characterize Bartonella spp. from bats and bat flies captured in Zambia by culturing and PCR. Overall, Bartonella spp. were isolated from six out of 36 bats (16.7%), while Bartonella DNA was detected in nine out of 19 bat flies (47.3%). Subsequent characterization using a sequence of five different genes revealed that three isolates obtained from Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) were Ca. B. rousetti. The isolates obtained from insectivorous bats (Macronycteris vittatus) were divided into two previously unclassified bat-associated bartonellae. A phylogenetic analysis of the six genotypes of Bartonella gltA sequences from nine pathogen-positive bat flies revealed that three genotypes belonged to the same clades as bat-associated bartonellae, including Ca. B. rousetti. The other three genotypes represented arthropod-associated bartonellae, which have previously been isolated only from ectoparasites. We demonstrated that Ca. B. rousetti is maintained between bats (R. aegyptiacus) and bat flies in Zambia. Continuous surveillance of Bartonella spp. in bats and serological surveys in humans in Africa are warranted to evaluate the public health importance of bat-associated bartonellae.